jueves, diciembre 27, 2012
DOJ Mysteriously Quits Monsanto Antitrust Investigation
By Tom Philpott
miércoles, diciembre 26, 2012
Organizaciones civiles de países miembros del Consejo Agropecuario del Sur rechazan acuerdo sobre transgénicos
Red por una America Latina Libre de Transgénicos, RALLT
Alianza por el Consumo Responsable y Solidario
Growing maize disaster
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Growing Maize Disaster
Inside and outside Mexico, voices have decried the attack aimed at the heart of Mexican cultures, food, health and nature. Since mid-November, there have been workshops and public meetings, as well as petitions and protests by farmers, artists, activists and scientists in social and print media and on the radio. La Via Campesina, Grain and ETC Group wrote an open letter to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) asking the multilateral agencies to intervene for the sake of global food security.
As Greenpeace reported at the end of November, the Mexican government quietly changed its regulatory procedures so that the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) is no longer legally bound to take into account the advice of its own and other government agencies’ experts on biosafety. Three government bodies had made critical, extremely cautionary or explicitly negative recommendations when previously consulted about the release of GM maize in Mexico.
Up until the Calderón administration’s parting shot, approvals to release GM crops were granted by the Secretary of Agriculture (Sagarpa) in agreement with the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, with a binding (vinculante) obligation to follow the recommendations of the National Institute of Ecology (INE), the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) and, when applicable, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp). The Calderón government did away with the obligation to follow the recommendations of the three institutions, and the reference to the National Institute of Ecology (INE) was deleted altogether.
The Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) had recommended the companies’ applications be rejected on the basis of the risks to biodiversity and because it considered coexistence of peasant varieties with GM maize an impossibility. In 2009, Conabio published a study on the origin and diversification of maize, and subsequently began a project involving 235 experts from 70 institutions,which concluded that the whole Mexican territory is the center of origin of maize. This contradicts the conclusions conjured by the Mexican government in its map published in October 2012, which designated some areas in several states of Mexico outside the center of origin – the areas include those where the multinationals have asked to plant GM maize.
After the government of Enrique Peña Nieto took office on December 1st, the new Secretary of Environment, Juan José Guerra, was quick to declare that he didn’t know enough about GMOs to give an opinion on the controversial issue, but stated it was a “technical decision” and he would consult scientists. While it is absurd to constrain the issue of maize in Mexico to the “technical” realm, there are ample reasons to deny the applications on technical grounds, many of which are as cited in the November 26 letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCCS) to the Mexican government, signed by more than 2700 scientists and other experts, including two Nobel laureates and dozens of national science award winners. The UCCS letter requests that the government immediately reinstate the moratorium against GM maize and cancel all experimental trials as well.
On December 7th, a broad coalition of urban and rural organizations demonstrated against GM maize outside the Secretary of Agriculture (Sagarpa). Mazahua indigenous women and urban grassroots organizations made tortillas in the street, with Mexican farmers, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations affirming their resistance to transgenic maize and the attempted coup by transnational companies. Delegates from all the organizations met with biosafety authorities of the Secretary to discuss the situation they consider “a national emergency.” They called for an open debate on GM maize to take place as soon as possible, with the understanding that the government not allow planting of GM maize in the meantime. On the same day as the demonstration in Mexico City, civil society organizations in Germany demonstrated their solidarity in front of Mexico’s embassy in Berlin.
The United Nations and the world’s governments are standing by while the creators of maize are threatened by a government administration that has the power to unilaterally and irrevocably undermine global food security and 7,000 years of peasant maize breeding. If Mexico’s government allows the commercial planting of GM maize, the precedent will have been set for centers of origin and diversity of food crops to be plundered and for the temporal territorial priorities of one administration to prevail over the human Right to Food.
martes, diciembre 25, 2012
lunes, diciembre 24, 2012
Transgénicos, cáncer y corrupción en la ciencia
Artículo de Silvia Ribeiro
"Gran parte del maíz transgénico que Monsanto y otras empresas presionan para plantar en millones de hectáreas en México, es el tipo que provocó cáncer y otros daños a la salud (hígado y riñones, infertilidad, muerte prematura) en ratas de laboratorio, según un reciente estudio científico en Francia. El estudio ha sido objeto de muchos reconocimientos científicos y también cuestionamientos. Pese a que las críticas vienen de científicos ligados a la industria transgénica, es muy saludable que se discuta este y cualquier otro experimento científico. Lo que es enfermo y no se justifica en ningún escenario es que mientras tanto, se autorice la siembra y consumo de maíz transgénico, sometiendo a la población a esos riesgos."
jueves, diciembre 20, 2012
Carmelo Ruiz: The Grand Botanical Chess Game
The Grand Botanical Chess Game
From Puerto Rican social ecologist Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero:
All over the world, debates on the future of food and agriculture are dominated by one supreme subject: the seed. Its importance cannot possibly be overstated. Seed is, after all, the beginning of the human food chain. In the words of University of Wisconsin professor Jack R. Kloppenburg: “As both food and means of production, seed sits at a critical nexus where contemporary struggles over the technical, social and environmental conditions of production and consumption converge and are made manifest.”
Current debates on seed center around its appropriation and privatization through intellectual property laws and treaties, and around the growing power of corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, which are bent on creating virtual monopolies over all seed germplasm.
miércoles, diciembre 19, 2012
Carmelo Ruiz: The great world agriculture debate
The Great World Agriculture Debate
Puerto Rican journalist Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero directs the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety. He is also a Research Associate of the Institute for Social Ecology, a fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and a senior fellow of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He writes specially for the Fife Diet.
Agriculture is humankind’s most important activity. According to some estimates, some 70% of the water our species uses goes to crops and farm animals, and agriculture takes up more space than any other human activity- just look at Google images of the Earth’s surface. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture employs at least half of the world’s workforce, which makes it evident that no economic sector will ever create as many jobs as farming does. Agriculture therefore must be at the very center of any project for revolutionary social change.
The green revolution failed. After decades of relentless work, world hunger has not been ameliorated. The world does not have less hungry people today, but more. Considering the vast human and financial resources that went into this endeavor, it is no exaggeration to state that the green revolution was one of the biggest failures of the twentieth century. In spite of its painfully obvious failure, the green revolution’s protagonists and spokespeople stubbornly refer to it as a success, that it was one of the most noble and successful humanitarian undertakings of all time. In light of the persistence of this triumphalist discourse, one can also say that the green revolution was also one of the major deceptions of the last century.
The green revolution has been under continuous and unending criticism ever since it started. In the early 1960′s authors Rachel Carson and Murray Bookchin warned about the environmental and human health hazards of pesticides, one of the main elements of the green revolution. In the following decade, American activists Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins founded the non-governmental organization Food First, which has produced educational materials on food, agriculture and hunger, with an explicitly critical view on the green revolution and neoliberal policies. In 1977 Lappe and Collins, with the collaboration of Cary Fowler, wrote “Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity”. This pioneering book made a bold frontal attack on every assumption of the green revolution, from Malthusianism to the need for pesticides in agriculture. In 1981 Food First published “Circle of Poison”, a book about the hazards of pesticides, which led to the founding of the Pesticide Action Network, a global network that today comprises over 600 non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals in 90 countries.
Throughout the 1980′s and 90′s a new chorus of critical voices spoke up against the green revolution: the advocates and practicioners of what has come to be known as organic, or ecological, farming. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as “a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.” (8)
Among the most important critiques of green revolution agriculture and supporters of organic farming are the pioneering research work done by Fowler and Mooney, the educational work of GRAIN, University of California agroecologist Miguel Altieri, Cuban scientist Fernando Funes, Puerto Rican professor Ivette Perfecto, Indian ecofeminist Vandana Shiva, and a growing number of small farmers’ organizations in both North and South, grouped together as Via Campesina, possibly the most important civil society organization in the world today.
...a new green revolution has been taking place since the 1990′s. There are several important differences between the old and new green revolutions. The first green revolution was founded on hybrid seeds that were the product of conventional breeding, while the new green revolution is based on genetically engineered seeds- which is why this new revolution is often referred to as the gene revolution. The seeds of the first green revolution were freely distributed, while the seeds of the gene revolution are patented.
The first green revolution was not some evil plot to take over world agriculture- its protagonists really intended to put an end to world hunger, and fully believed such a goal could be achieved within their lifetimes. Their agricultural revolution was driven by a conflicted mix of idealism, pragmatism, cold war geopolitics, and a sincere belief in the promise of modernity and secular salvation through scientific progress. But the new green revolution is motivated solely by greed and profit, nothing else. The first green revolution was carried out by the public sector and philanthropic private foundations, while the gene revolution is exclusively the product of a half dozen transnational corporations that dominate the so-called “life sciences”, of which the undisputed leader is Monsanto. To this we must add the arrival of a new actor on the scene, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is channeling enormous sums of money into agricultural research in the global South, especially in Africa.
The new green revolution does not take place in opposition to the previous one. On the contrary, it aims to complement it and extend it, and the institutions of both frequently work together. The most prominent example of this collaboration is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, a joint venture of the Gates and Rockefeller foundations. The institutions of the old green revolution are still around and continue doing their work, but nowadays with less financing and support than in the previous century. They are undergoing a funding crisis, as are all public agricultural research programs worldwide, as neoliberal governments have declared open season on public funding for scientific research and agricultural science. In response, these institutions are forming public-private partnerships with biotechnology corporations. These arrangements are not exempt of controversy. Critics have pointed out that they can lead to the patenting of seed collections and the abandonment of research and development of conventional seed in favor of genetically engineered varieties.
martes, diciembre 18, 2012
Ecuador: Organizaciones sociales y campesinas piden que se mantenga prohibición a los transgénicos